Volume 10, Issue 4 - July/August 2008
The Three-Step Test for Business
By understanding these three steps, you can test your organization’s ability to succeed when embarking on any future projects. Note that the test is pass or fail and that each step is tested and graded accordingly. Three passing grades must be achieved if projects are going to succeed.
Under the old adage, “It all starts and stops at the top,” management always provides approval to undertake new projects. Once management’s decision is made, great speeches are delivered, announcements are made and new activities begin. The resulting problem is that nothing changes and the investments of money, time and employee trust are lost.
When meeting with management to discuss the situation, what becomes apparent is that they have not done their part to support the project’s success. The most prevalent excuse, and my favorite is “I just haven’t had time,” or the equivalent, “I’ve been too busy.” The truth behind such responses is that the project just wasn’t that important to begin with or they would have prioritized the time to fulfill each of the terms falling within the realm of “the will of management.” It should be apparent that to achieve a passing grade, management must be involved continually, driving the process, following up and monitoring progress.
The Final Step
As a reminder, since I’ve written on the subject of effective goal setting in the past, the key is to design “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. The “S” represents the need for goals to be specific in design in order that everyone can read and come away with the same assessment of what the goal is about and what is to be achieved. The key here is to avoid the communication error of “bypassing” that simply means to avoid the use of words that can mean different things to different people. The letter “M” stands for making goals measurable. This is accomplished by making sure numerical values are incorporated. The “A” and “R” stand for making sure that goals are agreeable and realistic, respectively. These two letters go hand-in-hand in with the belief that that employees must feel that the goal is attainable, making it realistic. This greatly enhances the chances the goal will be viewed as being agreeable by the entire team. The last letter, “T,” is to make sure the goal has a beginning and ending date defining start and finish. Have your employees’ grade management on S.M.A.R.T goals in order to determine a passing grade.
There are specific steps that, when followed, offer the best use of time and resources. Keeping the S.M.A.R.T. goal in mind, start by defining the targeted outcome of the activity. Such an outcome need not pertain to the accomplishment of the goal but, instead, possibly a portion or component of it. Next, define who is to be involved and how that team of people is to proceed. Then move to defining the timing of the activity and where the activity will be completed. The final step, which is most critical, is to define what will be delivered to prove the activity is complete.
The grading of activities is fulfilled by the completion of the activity worksheet that itemizes each of the subjects previously outlined.
A passing grade on each of these three steps is the required foundation for any positive change within any organization. It may appear to make good commonsense, yet this often is the source of striking out when it comes to business success. Employ the test in order to hit a homerun for your business!
Carl Tompkins is the Western states area manager for Sika Corp. in Madison Heights, Mich. He is based in Spokane, Wash. Mr. Tompkins’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine.